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New Era Newspaper Friday May 11, 2018

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8 Friday 11 May 2018 NEW ERA EDITORIAL RSF’s blame of state media unwarranted Our friends at Reporters Without Borders, or Reporters Sans Frontières (RSF), in justifying dislodging Namibia from the pinnacles of African press freedom charts, waffled about the state media’s supposed role in that degeneration. Essentially, RSF is blaming, maybe in part, the state media for the drop in ranking. If our suspicion is correct, we are indeed baffled by such unfounded accusations. We are keen to hear the specifics of this nefarious justification, which in our view was arrived at lazily and without effort to provide evidence of the supposed self-censorship. In our observation, there were no changes recorded in the state media fraternity during the period under review. If there were, we challenge RSF to promptly point those out. The constant isolation of the state media and total disregard for their efforts and success in keeping the nation informed is nauseating. There are hardworking men and women working in the state media space who make massive sacrifices every day to ensure Namibia and the world are well and timely informed. To dismiss their efforts as if they meant nothing – when in fact it contributes massively to the national and global development agenda – is repulsive. The Namibian government must be applauded for distinguishing itself from many of its peers who control state media. Its understanding of media independence is at the centre of past top rankings accorded to the country, a fact that cannot be dismissed willy-nilly by anyone, including RSF. With such freedoms guaranteed, why then would state media censor themselves? Our primary concern is not the ranking but the blame being placed on the shoulders of the state media for it. It appears as though RSF had to frantically cling onto something to justify its ranking – and the state media inadvertently became the target in this web of desperation. On a slightly different note, RSF also cited the absence of the access to information law as another contributor to Namibia losing her African raking to Ghana. On this, we would like to point out what is widely known already - that Ghana too does not have an access to information law. Also, some of the worst ranked countries in the world, like our neighbours Zimbabwe, have such law. Any research organisation worth its weight in gold knows that in comparative research, the same tools and benchmarks must be used to arrive at a conclusion. We can’t, for example, use access to information as a tool of measurement in one country and not the other – yet draw comparisons between the two countries. We will not go into the deep sermons of research, but if a law on access to information was RSF’s tool of measuring press freedom, how did Ghana make it to the top then? Or better yet, how did Namibia dominate the charts for consecutive years if having this law was such a critical yardstick? It is our submission that the access to information law, if implemented to the letter, could help boost transparency but not necessarily press freedom. Transparency is a critical governance element, but having it does not guarantee freedom of the press. Conversations about money are frowned upon in most Namibian communities, merely because it is a subject that makes us very uncomfortable. We become particularly uneasy because there are a myriad of emotions around the subject, such as fear, hopelessness, resentment, shame, and anger. These issues are unconsciously passed on to our children. In the spirit of ending generational poverty, we ought to identify what those emotions are and wrestle them to the ground before they Democratically free, yet financially oppressed extend to another generation. It amazes me how some parents would rather talk to their children about sex, but not money. They are more comfortable talking about a condom, and not a credit card. If we truly care about the next generation’s financial freedom, we ought to become comfortable with the uncomfortable and have proactive financial dialogues with our children. As I grapple with the lack of financial literacy within our country, I have come to the following conclusion – since money habits are one of our most learned behaviors, most of us have inherited our parents’ financial habits (good or bad). Our grandparents were raised in the Agrarian age; they had little to no financial wisdom to instill in our parents. And, even though some of our parents had the luxury of receiving a formal education; they were not fully equipped with the most basic financial knowledge to bestow upon us. As a result, we are living above our means and buying items we cannot afford. Firstly, we have become evangelists about competing with the next person, even if it means raking up more debts. Secondly, our biggest foe is lifestyle inflation - every time our income escalates, our spending goes up as well. Credit cards have become an integral part of our lifestyles, so much so that when we tell our children we cannot afford something, their response is, “Just put it on a credit card”. As you may have already gleaned, the financial oppression I am referring to is not that of a white supremacist, but that of our own unhealthy financial habits. Let us fight for our financial independence by making a conscious decision to change our mindset about money, getting out of debt, changing our spending habits and setting saving goals. Let us move away from the “work hard, earn money, and spend it, and when we run out of money, we can always borrow more” philosophy. Tua Kalola CELEBRATING A VISIONARY Otavi is built around precious minerals, which gives us livelihood, it is in the same way our Nation is built around the legacy of the Founding Father, His Excellency Dr. Sam Nujoma who inspired a Nation that we are proud to be a part of. For this reason, we would like to take this opportunity to wish our Founding President a Happy 89th Birthday. From Executive Management, Elected Councilors and fellow citizens. enquiries@otavitown.org.na | +264 67 234 122/022 | +264 67 234 236 | 235 John Pandeni Street, Otavi OTAVI TOWN COUNCIL

Friday 11 May 2018 NEW ERA 9 thought leaders Opinions in this section must not exceed 600 words. Shorter pieces will enjoy preference and must be emailed to tndjebela@nepc.com.na TwitterSphere Hage G. Geingob @hagegeingob The University of Namibia Health Sciences Campus has been renamed the Hage G. Geingob Campus. I am privileged, and on the occasion, I stressed health as central to our economic growth and prosperity. Our health sector should be vigilant, and prevent the outbreak of diseases. Elijah Ngurare @ngurare Let me say this again: the graduates of University of Namibia, NUST, IUM and those of Vocational Training as well as Namibian graduates from foreign universities, possess the skills required to develop NAMIBIA. Sadly government seems more in love with others instead of its own! Lazarus N Shiimi @Gazza467_ As much as we want empowerment as the youth of Namibia we must also learn to be punctual, honest, reliable and have a professional approach in our respective lanes. Monkey@ChilliKong A young guy with a degree just came in our office desperately looking for a job, he says even a driver he will take. Namibia is making our youth suffer. Van die Pal @Uli_tala One truly needs a spouse with a pay slip in this day and age. At this rate, one will be forced to combine their bonds to own a house in this Namibia. It is not easy. Open letter to President Masisi from Dukwi Ten days in office for [Botswana] President Mokgweetsi Masisi launched a blood shell on Caprivian refugees in his country during his purposeful official visit to Namibia to meet his counterpart President Hage Geingob. We did not plan that we should be called refugees; neither did we choose voluntarily when we were running into Botswana around 1998 to 2000. We were just running with our lives in bare hands because the political situation was not warranting for all of us to stay in the Caprivi Strip, which is forcefully occupied by Namibia. It is an open secret that we were given political asylum with our leaders, Mishake Muyongo, Chief Bebi Mamili, three councillors, the late John Mabuku, the late Francis Sizimbo, Mr. Walubita and many others. It was Botswana, under then President Festus Mogae, that welcomed us. It is true that the first group that came were carrying arms of war, which were handed to the Botswana authority. Thereafter, masses crossed into Botswana. All the people who crossed into Botswana were interviewed by the authorities and were registered members of the political party, United Democratic Party (UDP). In our first meeting in 1999 when we met the then Namibian Home Affairs Minister Jerry Ekandjo, we indicated categorically that we want a solution to our problem so that we can return home earlier and peacefully. In four months’ time, we would have been refugees in your country for 20 years. We never intended to be refugees.We were first granted political asylum, which later changed to refugee status. This Republic best knows the reasons for the difference between the two and for the change. Mr. President, a beggar is not a chooser. You gave us without force, but because of the situation that you saw. When you take your status from us, we shall remain human beings first, as created by God in his very image and then as Caprivians who deserve to live like any human beings. It is true that though you are President, you are still a human being created in the image of God. Your, Excellency, since our arrival in this Republic we have tried our best to behave ourselves. Those who were found on the wrong side of the law were dealt with according to the law without favour. Mr. President, we regret to learn that while you were visiting Namibia and you spoke to your colleague, President Geingob, and made your mainly about us. You spoke against us as if we have committed a crime in your country. Many times we have reiterated that we want to go home peacefully. We don’t deserve to be bundled in your trucks for deportation, as you seem to plan. We have a problem that we told you and well known by President Geingob. Now that we are no longer refugees, we have become illegal immigrants in the Republic of Botswana. You legalised our stay in this country for 20 years, now Felix Kakula you are planning to deport us. Mr. President, we note that there existed a Tripartite Commission where Namibia, Botswana and United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) were the facilitators with regard to the Caprivian refugees in Botswana. We are glad to note that it no longer exists because it was biased and irrelevant, as it could not come up to the solution in our case. Our issue is a political case, a treasonous issue according to Namibia and therefore the involvement of UNHCR was quite irrelevant and a misappropriation of responsibilities. Mr. President, we do not practice politics in the refugee camp and on Botswana soil. However, we belong to a political party as mentioned above. We are a law-abiding community and so we keep the standard you want us to keep. Your Excellency, I think you learnt something during your conversation with President Geingob. He warned that those who have political agendas are not welcome to Namibia and we have no doubt that he meant us, UDP people in Botswana. We have a message to His Excellency President Masisi and His Excellency Dr. Geingob. We put it to you that as leaders you have the capacity to resolve the Caprivi issue politically in a peaceful way. We put it to you that we believe in resolving political problems peacefully as peaceful people. We also trust that you know that dialogue to disputes is the necessary tool than shutting up people, dividing, oppressing and ruling them. Your Excellences, the Caprivi issue shall not be resolved by deporting us, putting us in prisons, threats of any kind, torture or even killing us all in exile. God who created you, gave you the authority, the same God who created us, will do what is right between us and you, because to God we are all his children despite the authority you have. Many Caprivians lost their lives both in exile under SWAPO and also in this exile. Be reminded again that we have thus far lost more than 400 people buried in Dukwi alone. You want us to be holding arms, fighting every day, innocent people and children dying like what is happening in other countries? Is that when you will believe that we are serious? We are determined never to procrastinate this struggle to the next generation. It is do or die now and never tomorrow. Felix Kakula is a spokesperson of the group calling itself Caprivians, based in Dukwi, Botswana. This letter has been shortened for space. Advancing our nation’s destiny through respect and unity We can never afford ourselves the luxury of either forgetting or denying our past history owing to the recentness thereof as well as the fact that our daily lives, whether religious, economic or political are affected by it. Apartheid was thoroughly crafted to execute the strategy of divide and rule based on tribe, ethnicity and skin pigmentation from the cradle to the grave at all costs. The main driving factor here was economic plunder through command and control. That which our countries on the continent offered, from their greatest resources, the people to the infinite wealth discovered in the belly of the earth overcame our oppressors with so much greed that they did not only discard of our humanity, but their own as well as they sold their souls to the demons of materialism without realising that one day we would free ourselves politically and take back what was taken from us, our human dignity. We continue the conversations and discussions that express our loathing of practices such as racism, tribalism, ethnicity and nepotism because they still plague our society albeit off the statute books. However, due to the type of liberal hybrid, democratic system of government we have put in place and the capitalist society we have, our political rights and economic needs are loud and clear. The clarion call to uphold unity and to work on sustaining the unity should never be rubbished as part of political jargon or a cliche being used as a panacea to either tickle the hearer’s ears or pacify the speaker’s conscience. I dare say that after political emancipation, the people desire economic relief through the establishment of working public institutions that serve the common good of all in an environment where transacting business or carrying out our daily work are not undermined by personal agendas but enhanced by professionalism. Our national symbols, which we revere, cannot on their own unite us Apostle Marson Sharpley in a sustained manner for as long as economic inequalities are glaring at us and the masses are dissatisfied. Whilst the narrative definitely needs to major and focus on our economic growth and provision for all our people, it is also incumbent upon our political leaders and economic drivers such as captains of industry and those in the economic know how to work at simplifying concepts and programs so that the psyche of the masses is changed from negativity to positive patriotism because of a clear understanding of the vision. These economic conversations, while being robust and energetic, need to be simplified in both their articulation and implementation so that inclusivity does not remain a mere dream or political figment or far off desire of our imagination. Our country, like all other countries is not confined to its geographic borders, but spans the globe through the presence of embassies and the constant travel carried out by the citizenry. The focus of our embassies abroad is, like any other foreign embassy in our country, the advancement of economic and political interests driven by mutual understanding and agreements as directed by constant threat and opportunity analysis. As much as we are part of multilateral families in the nation states of the world, Namibian, Southern African Development Community (SADC) and African economic interests on these platforms cannot be over emphasized for obvious reasons. Without selling our country to the highest bidder, we need to emulate our President, the First Lady, Cabinet and the leaders in the market place and the tourism industry by advertising Namibia as a reliable investment destination and a safe tourist haven as we change the conversation regarding Namibia from a negative one to a positive outlook. However, one of the major game changers here is the radical eradication of the corruption that deprives skilled and positive thinking citizens of contributing meaningfully to the economic advancement of the country where able bodied citizens, irrespective of their color, creed or religious inclination are able to fulfill their dreams and provide for their families and communities. One of the direct results of globalisation is that we compete with other countries with the sole purpose of developing our country. Our country has to compete for markets, for technology, for investments and for skills. We compete to raise our living standards. In his book, How Countries Compete Richard H. K. Victor writes; “In this competitive environment, it is government, invariably, that provides distinctive advantages to firms: high savings and low interest rates for investment, sound property rights and good governance, a technologically motivated and committed workforce, a low rate of inflation, and rapidly expanding domestic market.” We must work to prepare our nation to compete. (to be continued)

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